• Sweden edition
 
Russian disgust over Sweden Eurovision skit

Russian disgust over Sweden Eurovision skit

Published: 16 Mar 2009 18:15 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Mar 2009 18:15 GMT+01:00

The Russian embassy in Stockholm has launched a scathing critique of Sveriges Television (SVT) for what it sees as a “disgusting” portrayal of Russia during the weekend’s Melodifestivalen finals.

“It makes no sense to me why Sweden would show such ignorance in misinterpreting this image of Russia,” embassy spokesperson Anatoly Kargapolov told The Local.

“If Russians could see what happened on the stage of Globen on Saturday, I’m fairly certain it will reduce the number of votes they give to the Swedish singer [Malena Ernman].”

Kargapolov’s comments come in reaction to a comedy interlude from the Melodifestivalen finals featuring two Swedes who travel to Moscow on a fictitious attempt to recruit a Russian singer to perform a “musical postcard from Moscow”.

The two are then ushered into the headquarters of the Russian “Schlager Mafia” where they meet a stereotypical Russian mobster, flanked by a beautiful woman and armed guards.

As the sketch proceeds, tempers flare when the Swedes refuse to hand over a teddy bear one of them is wearing in lieu of a traditional Russian fur hat.

The other Swede then says to the supposed-gangster, “You’re fucking worst!”, at which point the mobster’s henchmen (and the woman) all draw their weapons.

The taped comedy sketch ends with an agreement between the Swedes and the head of the Russian “Schlager Mafia” at which point the programme segues into a techno version of a tongue-in-cheek song entitled “Tingeling, tingeling” (‘Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling’) performed live on the Globen stage and broadcast live across Sweden on SVT.

The live dance number included an array of Russian stereotypes, including Cossack dancers, matryoshka stacking dolls, and a chorus of men dressed like Russian soldiers. The choreography also featured several scantily clad women wearing tight-fitting shorts with a single red star splaying their legs toward the camera in unison.

“I didn’t know how to react,” said Kargapolov.

He explained that many staff members at the embassy were bewildered by what they saw as an “offensive” and “disconnected” portrayal of Russia and Russian culture.

“I’m really upset that the Swedish people don’t bother to see beyond its own borders and sticks to such narrow-minded and outdated stereotypes of Russia,” he said.

Even the ambassador himself, Alexander M. Kadakin, has been informed of the matter, although he has chosen not to get involved personally at this point since he was out of town at the weekend and didn’t see the performance himself.

The embassy did issue an official statement however, condemning the piece:

“We do not react to eccentricity by some lunatics whose Russophobia should place them in an asylum rather than on Globen’s stage.”

SVT’s Ronnie Lans, an executive producer for Melodifestivalen, defended the comedy sketch and song as “satire”.

“The number was done with a lot of humour and affection,” he said.

“It wasn’t our intention at all to offend anyone. It was a comedy sketch.”

Lans explained that the satire was meant to poke fun more at Swedes’ views of Russia, rather than Russia itself.

“We’ve all been to Russia and know that’s not how it really is,” he said.

He clarified in particular that the so-called “Schlager Maffia” is actually a term applied in jest to a group of performers and artists surrounding Christer Björkman, a former Melodifestivalen winner from 1992 who now runs the Swedish contest.

“We thought it would be fun to include his Russian counterpart,” said Lans.

Lans said SVT has received nothing but positive reactions about the sketch from viewers, many of whom suggested that “Tingeling” should be Sweden’s Eurovision entry to the contest in Moscow.

“We apologize if what we did was considered insulting. That wasn’t our intent,” he said, but added that he didn’t think the number crossed over the line.

“Satire is what it is, and sometimes it can be edgy.”

He admitted that SVT could also do more to help counteract Swedes’ stereotypes about Russia, something that the embassy’s Kargapolov would welcome.

“These stereotypes sit so deeply in the Swedish psyche,” Kargapolov explained.

“Hopefully this will help ring some bells among Swedes and help them realize how disgusting some of the things are that they’ve shown.”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Missing Swede found alive and well in UK
Sofie Marie Jansson. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK

British police have found the missing Swedish girl Sofie Jansson in London, exactly a week after she was last seen, with authorities saying she is doing well. READ () »

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Sweden's opposition party have stepped up its efforts to secure the pensioner vote by pledging to lower taxes for the elderly and make higher earners pay more. READ () »

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend
Showan Shattak pictured in Malmö before his attack. Photo: Facebook

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend

The 25-year-old man, whose stabbing by neo-Nazis sparked mass demonstrations across Sweden, has made a strong recovery in hospital and took to social media to thank supporters for campaigning against fascism. READ () »

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag visits a school in Tensta, one of the neighbourhoods mentioned when he and his colleagues first floated the new start zone proposal. File: TT

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input

Sweden has abandoned a plan to ease taxes for small companies in blighted areas after the European Commission challenged its legality. READ () »

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'
A typical Swedish Easter egg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'

A Swedish microbiologist has warned that traditional Swedish Easter eggs laden with candy are an open invitation to the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Is this really a good idea?" he asked. READ () »

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour

PICTURES: A truck got wedged inside a tunnel in central Stockholm on Thursday, with authorities concerned the accident may have damaged cables in the tunnel's ceiling. READ () »

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
A Swedish Easter witch holding daffodils. File photo: TT

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter

In India, I'd notice Easter only from the traffic jam outside the churches, but here witches, egg hunts, and feathers mark the Christian holiday. The Local's Deepti Vashisht brings you the various shades of Swedish Easter. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Advertisement:
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

751
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com